Access to a trained interpreter in a medical setting improves the quality of care and ensures that the patient is informed and able to maintain autonomy over their healthcare decisions. Failing to provide patients access to professional interpretation services leads to an increased frequency of mistakes of medical significance, putting the patient's health at risk.
From understanding medication dosage instructions to giving informed consent, medical interpreters are absolutely necessary for those with language barriers.
In the United States, language access is a civil right that is protected by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. For example, a hospital that receives taxpayer funding through the federal government is absolutely required to take reasonable steps to ensure that patients with language barriers have access to translation and interpretation services. However, these rights are not universally found. For example, in Ontario, Canada, hospitals are only required to provide interpreters for the official languages of Canada, English and French, despite Canada's linguistic diversity.
Americans Against Language Barriers is trying to learn more about the situation of language rights around the world. Please click HERE or fill out the form below and share your insight to help catalyze our research. Note: If you live in the United States, please tell us about your state/territory.